Why Are People So Obsessed With Buc-ee’s? Is It Worth the Hype?

an aerial shot of the buc-ees in Sevierville, TN

Buc-ee's is famous for its snacks and clean restrooms. But is it worth the hype? (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

A Southerner shares his first experience at a Buc-ee’s

We were on I-75 heading south through Georgia and running late. But once we passed Chattanooga, temptation in the form of Buc-ees billboards was everywhere. The billboards promised seemingly endless rows of gas pumps with cheap gas. Not to mention the cleanest bathrooms in the United States, with enough urinals to service a small town. So, as we approached Calhoun, just slightly north of the halfway point between Chattanooga and Atlanta, the internal monologue vacillated between raging curiosity and the sanctity of making good time.

You see, at the time in Tennessee, we’d only had the promise of Buc-ee’s, home of the world-famous clean bathrooms. The Lone Star State travel center’s multi-state expansion includes Tennessee, but neither the Crossville nor the Sevier County Buc-ee’s locations had yet opened. And so I’d heard fanciful tales of this new travel center. The Guinness World Record holding nirvana promises the cleanest restrooms, a plethora of fueling positions and road snacks that put other stations – with higher gas prices – to shame.

Honestly, the promise of a clean bathroom alone was a great reason to stop. I’ve earned something of a reputation over the years for picking exits whose gas stations leave something to be desired in the clean restrooms department. And so, already tired from the traffic ordeal in Knoxville and dreading the Friday night traffic in Atlanta, I made the command decision to break up the monotony of the road with a Buc-ee’s stop. The decision was massively popular with the whole Gullion clan.

RELATED VIDEO: Why Are People So Obsessed With Buc-ee’s?

Cars at Buc-ee's Gas Pumps
Cars line the gas pumps at Buc-ee’s (photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

My initial reaction

The first thing I noticed when approaching a Buc-ee’s store is the size. The campus is massive. When they say everything is bigger in Texas, Buc-ee’s took that to heart and is now spreading it around the country. The New Braunfels, Texas store for example is 66,335 square feet. The one in Calhoun isn’t as big, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. In addition to the largest gas station, Buc-ee’s has a Guinness World Record for the longest car wash at its Katy, Texas location.

At any rate, we were traveling on a holiday and the place was hopping. Heavy traffic made me a little concerned for the kids as we made our way from the parking lot into the store, which resembles nothing more than a cleaner, better-managed and friendlier version of Walmart.

Upon entering, my kids fell in love with Bucky the Beaver. The toothy mascot was a home run. My oldest wanted a set of Buc-ee’s Christmas-themed pajamas and the younger two wanted a stuffed version of the mascot. In fact, I don’t know how much they pay the store mascot but I hope it’s at the higher end of the scale – the kids were all in.

sausage on a stick in front of bucees
Buc-ee’s famous sausage on a stick is a favorite for some, but for others, not so much (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

My review of the food and the famous bathrooms

The food? Mixed reviews. The barbecue was fine. Better than you’d perhaps expect from a typical gas station but not the religious experience you’d expect after hearing about it from some of Buc-ee’s acolytes. And I was disappointed with the sausage on a stick. I’m a big fan of foods on a stick, the chicken on a stick served during the Spring Jubilee festival in Selma, Alabama being the best. But the Buc-ee’s sausage wasn’t much better than the stick. The beef jerky, however, was great as was the peanut brittle. So its surprising this travel chain has become famous for its collection of snacks. Fan-favorite Buc-ee’s snacks include but are not limited to:

  • Beaver nuggets (not made of actual Beaver)
  • Homemade fudge
  • Texas barbecue
  • Pecan pie
  • Fresh pastries
  • Peanut butter
  • Candies
  • Beef jerky

The only drawback we found is that getting in and out of a Buc-ee’s, especially with a large crew, takes time. Even with the massive Buc-ee’s bathrooms, there were so many people there were lines for the ladies. Plus all the options for shopping and dining don’t lend themselves to a quick in and out.

employees work the fudge counter at the sevierville location
I think the real reason people are obsessed with Buc-ee’s is the excellent customer service (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

But why are people so obsessed with Buc-ee’s?

I think there’s a reason Buc-ee’s has earned a reputation that goes far beyond its shining urinal-shaped beacon on a hill. For instance, each Buc-ee’s store is known for its customer service. This may be a result of the fact that the world-record-holding chain pays far above the typical minimum wage for the region it serves. When a new Buc-ee’s location opens, it’s a significant development bringing dozens of new jobs to the area.

In Tennessee, Buc-ee’s reportedly pays more than double the national minimum wage – approaching triple for management positions. Buc-ee’s also offers full benefits including dental insurance. The new locations bring many permanent full-time jobs to the area as well.

Snacks on the inside of a Buc-ees store
Buc-ee’s locations typically have a huge interior with thousands of snack, meal and drink options (photo by EWY media/shutterstock.com)

Buc-ee’s locations

Currently, Bucee’s has locations in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky with more retail projects planned in South Carolina and Tennessee. 

The Sevier County location, now open, is 74,000 square feet. The Travel Center is located at I-40 Exit 407. It features 120 fueling positions, EV charging stations and a 250-foot-long car wash. This location is part of the 200-acre development called “The 407: Gateway to Adventure” which is being developed by Kituwah LLC and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on land that belonged to the Cherokee for generations and was fairly recently reacquired. When completed, it will feature shops, restaurants, themed experiences, unique photo-ops, parks and hotels but currently no casinos.

The Cherokee have also purchased land across the highway near the Smokies Stadium. It’s reportedly possible – with a change in Tennessee state law – there could be a casino complex there in the coming generations.

Have you visited a Buc-ee’s? Are you excited about the new location? Let us know in the comments.

Have a question or comment about something in this article? Contact our staff here. You may also contact our editorial team at info@thesmokies.com.

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9 thoughts on “Why Are People So Obsessed With Buc-ee’s? Is It Worth the Hype?”

  1. I had my first buccees experience hyst last week we stopped at both ga locations and absolutely loved it! Can’t wait for the Crossville one to open its only 30 mins from home

    Reply
  2. Knowing some of the inside particulars about the 407 developments , I am very pleased with how this area is being developed. IF HELP CAN BE FOUND AND HOUSED!!

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  3. Yes, bucees is always an essential so when I’m in Texas. When I can’t make it to Texas, I get my beaver Nuggets over at texassnax .com

    Reply
  4. There is now a Buc-ee’s in Richmond, KY. We’ve been there twice. They are not kidding about how clean the restrooms are. We sat in back-up on I75 due to a wreck for 2 hours. We could have stopped at the exit before, but knew how clean and wonderful the restroom was at Buc-ee’s so we waited until we go there. I sooooooooo hope they get one near Cincinnati!!!!!!!

    Reply
  5. Certainly not intending to get the soup stirred here but we just weren’t big fans. Never having experienced the Buc, we figured we’d better pull off and see all the buzz was about. On our yearly excursion to Seveirville, PF and the Burg, we started noticing noticing road signs probably 50 or so miles beforehand. Once we finally found a parking spot, we ventured in, nosed for probably 15 or so, tinkled and headed on out. Ioho, just eh. Overpriced clothes, mediocre food and, sure, super clean potties but all in all, just a bunch of hype. Now. This all said, would we stop again? Absolutely. But certainly wouldn’t sit in line, waiting for a parking spot. Just don’t see what all the fuss is about. Don’t [come at] me; just our thoughts! 🙂

    Reply
    • The waiting to get in and out to even park stinks. The crazy crowds stinks. The customer service was great and we thought their prices were competitive. To be honest, if you go Sunday morning, it’s the best time to stop. We have gotten lucky every time due to people not being out yet. We beat the after church crowds and most other people sleep in on Sunday mornings. That is the only time we will stop now unless there is no line to get in coming off the interstate.

      Reply
  6. Stopped at Bucc-ees in S. Carolina and Florida – twice, on a two week trip.

    I thought the place was fabulous. Sure beats all the other gas stations, Circle Ks, Pilots, TA Americas and other random pit stops I’ve ever made.

    Reply
  7. I think it is just fun! A bright spot in the road so to say! There is such a mixture of inventory. I usually pick up a present for someone if something strikes me! A good place to stretch! However, I did travel with a woman who actually disliked it immensely. Couldn’t wait to get out! Made me want to linger!

    Reply

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